Saturday 10am-6pm, AMC
If your family is as sarcastic yet sentimental as mine, this 1988 masterpiece—aired all day by AMC—should provide appropriate background viewing as you unwrap presents and deliver thinly veiled personal attacks. There have been countless take-offs of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol over the years, but I’d argue that this remains the best. Bill Murray plays Frank Cross, a real bastard of a TV executive. His job allows for some smart story-within-a-story hijinks, with hilarious turns by Alfre Woodard as the Bob Cratchit analogue, Carol Kane as a giggly, physically abusive Ghost of Christmas Present, and Bobcat Goldthwait (it was the ’80s!). Plus, Mary Lou Retton is Tiny Tim!
“Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade”
Saturday noon-2pm, ABC
If your kids whine about never going to Disney World, shut them up by making them watch this annual special, which is basically just as good as visiting the real thing (no, it isn’t), but without spending tens of thousands of dollars or waiting in line half an hour to go on the teacups. Hosts Nick Cannon and Ryan Seacrest wrangle actual stars, fake Disney “celebrities,” the pro hoofers from “Dancing with the Stars,” Mickey’s costumed cohorts, and utterly bizarre guests like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Darth Vader, who leads the 501st Legion of Stormtroopers.
“Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol”
Saturday 9pm, BBC America
I’ve only seen bits of “Doctor Who” since the show relaunched in 2005, but my friend Anna McCabe is a huge “Who” fan. In 2010 we got a new Doctor, after Matt Smith stepped in for the departing David Tennant. This will be Smith’s first Christmas special, and Anna had this to say about his Eleventh Doctor: “I liked the new Doctor from his first appearance, but it took a couple of episodes before I really warmed up to him. He’s a lot more alien than I’d expected, which made it difficult to empathize with him at first, but once I got accustomed to his quirks it became very easy to like him. I think it’s delightful how he balances a child-like sense of wonder at experiencing every new adventure the universe can offer with the wisdom of a 900-year-old being. He’s completely awesome and I’m stupidly excited for the Christmas special.” As you might guess, the special is based on Dickens, and features Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) as a guest star.